It may feel daunting to have a handful of overly excited kids in your care for an entire evening at a sleepover, and you may feel the itch to overplan every minute of the slumber party, but don't stress! Once you offer kids a game or activity, they will likely take the reins from there.
Here are 30 things to do at a sleepover that are simple activities with minimal setup!
A classic mani/pedi station will delight sleepover guests, particularly if you go the extra mile to make the setup look "professional" with a rainbow of paint colors, toe separators and nail files. You can suggest that everyone paint their own nails, or they can take turns painting each other's nails.
Make-your-own face masks
Enlist the kids to help mix up their own face masks. Since some kids may have sensitive skin, keep it on the safe side and choose a recipe with all-natural, edible ingredients. If they really want the spa experience, give them refrigerated cucumber slices for their eyes and play soothing music while they relax for five minutes (or until the giggles get the best of them).
Make paper fortune tellers/cootie catchers
Do paper fortune tellers actually tell the future? Nah. But are they super fun? Yeah!
You can find tons of tutorials and templates for this decades-old game, but before you look those up, ask your kids if they know how to make them. They probably already do!
Play "Truth or Dare"
In this classic sleepover game, kids are offered a choice: They can respond to a question with the truth, or they can take a dare. Before playing this game, you may want to caution the kiddos to keep the dares mild. Something like sticking your hand in ice water for 30 seconds is certainly preferable to climbing a tree in the dark.
Selfies are always entertaining, but if you really want to up the party level, set up a selfie station with a backdrop and a ton of fun accessories, like sunglasses, crowns and feather boas. You can also purchase a camera that develops photos instantly so you can make an album of their sleepover adventures while they're still at the sleepover.
Have an ice cream sundae bar
Want to be the cool parent? Have an ice cream bar! Keeping in mind any dietary restrictions of your guests, you can set up ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, candy toppings, cereal toppings, fruit ... the sky's the limit!
With wireless microphones that connect to music players, it's easier than ever to have a mighty karaoke setup at a low cost. But even without the bells and whistles, kids will have a blast shouting out the lyrics of their favorite songs. (Parents, you may want to grab your earplugs.)
Have a lip sync contest
If the kids love music but are too shy to sing out loud, try having a lip sync contest. You can even ask kids to prepare a song in advance. They can lip sync one at a time or ask for backup singers and dancers.
Make your own pizzas
Pizza making is a great activity for sleepovers because it's both an activity and a meal — and each guest will have exactly what they want on their pizza.
Play "Name That Tune"
You and your child can make a list of songs in advance. Play ten seconds of a song and ask one of your guests to identify it. Once every guest has had a turn, play a second round only using the first eight seconds of a song. Keep ticking the time down by two seconds each round and see how long the kids can keep identifying songs.
Make friendship bracelets
Friendship bracelets never go out of style! Kids can make bracelets for themselves, make bracelets for someone else or teach each other new bracelet-making techniques.
Play "Crack the Code"
Think of a longer word that the kids will know, like "cupcake" or "rainbow." Write each letter of the word on a separate Post-It note. Hide the Post-Its around the room. Have the kids come in and search for all the Post-Its, then they will need to rearrange the letters to spell out your code word.
Rewrite a song
Ask the kids to try out their songwriting skills by rewriting the lyrics to one of their favorite songs. They can work together or break up into smaller groups and perform their original songs for one another.
Have a movie marathon
Although younger kids may get the wiggles before the first movie ends, older kids will love a movie marathon. If you are watching multiple movies, make sure that each one is two hours or less to keep things moving. And if you plan to show a scary movie, make sure it's not the last movie of the night.
Host a talent show
Kids say (and do!) the darndest things, and it can be hilarious to help them plan a talent show. Whether their talent consists of doing a cartwheel, telling a joke or burping the alphabet, you're sure to enjoy this activity as much as they do.
Learn a TikTok dance
It can be fun to encourage younger kids to feel grown up by finding a TikTok dance tutorial for them to try. You will likely want to approve this one in advance to make sure it's appropriate for their age level. Choose something slightly easier than you think the kids can handle so that they'll feel successful right away.
OK, you don't want to teach the kids to put each other's pajamas in the freezer, but you can introduce a few mild pranks. For example, you can set Alexa to play their least favorite song every 10 minutes. You could stuff a piece of tissue in the toe of everyone's shoes and wait for their confusion when they put them on. Doing so may encourage the kids to play pranks on each other, so keep an ear out to make sure that everything is done in good fun.
Decorate T-shirts or pillowcases
Grab a pack of oversized white T-shirts or white pillowcases and have the kids personalize them. You can use fabric paint, permanent markers, iron-on patches ... anything goes! It's a fun activity that lets kids show off their creative side, and it's a souvenir of the evening, too.
Play "Would You Rather?"
This game is super simple. Give kids two choices and ask which they would rather do. For example, "Would you rather eat nothing but mayonnaise sandwiches, or wear flip-flops all winter?" You'll learn a lot — and giggle — with each answer.
This game is like reverse "Hide-and-Seek." Instead of everyone hiding and one person seeking, this game requires one person to hide and everyone else seeks. As each one of the seekers finds the hider, they join the hider, making the hiding spot a bit more unwieldy. As you can imagine, it's also a lot harder to stay quiet when you're smushed in a hiding spot with a group of six.
Have a fashion show
Let kids show off their creative side with a fashion show. Your child can shares their clothes, you can take out the dress-up gear or you can dive into the Halloween bin. Have each child put on an outfit. Then turn up the music and have them strut down a makeshift "catwalk" while you (or one of the other kids) introduces them.
Whether the kids are braiding experts or novices, they can always improve their skills. Find a few braiding tutorials online and help them follow along. You may want to have some brushes, hair elastics and spray bottles of water on hand to expedite the process.
Make a fort
Fort making isn't just for little kids. Even big kids will enjoy taking a pile of blankets and pillows and transforming them into a cozy sleeping spot.
Play "This or That"
Before the party starts, brainstorm a list of options with your child, like, "Peanut butter or jelly? Cake or cupcakes? Chips or cookies?" When the kids arrive, you can ask each one to write their choices on a piece of paper and reveal them at the end, or you can just ask kids to raise their hands as you go. There's no goal of the game — it's just fun to learn more about each other.
Bob for doughnuts
Tie one end of a piece of string around a doughnut and tie the other end to a long stick (a yardstick or a mop handle will work nicely). Hold up the stick so that the doughnut is dangling in front of the child's mouth. Without using hands, the child will try to eat the doughnut, which, as you can imagine, will be hilarious.
Play "Who Am I?"
This game sort of works like "20 Questions" ... except everyone is playing at the same time. Write the name of a celebrity on a strip of painter's tape and gently attach a name to every child's forehead. Let them wander around the room to ask yes-or-no questions until they figure out the name they were given. The only catch is that they can only ask one question per person before they have to move to another person. Even though someone will figure out their celebrity name first, there's really no "winner." Challenge the whole group to figure out their celebrity names in five minutes or less to help them work as a team.
There's something thrilling about opening up a newly tie-dyed shirt to see the unique pattern you created. And now that you can buy tie-dye kits, it's easier than ever to do tie-dye at home. (A word of warning, though: you might want to do this in warm weather so that the entire activity can be completed outdoors.)
Play "Pass the Story"
Write one or two sentences to begin a story on a piece of paper. Fold over the top of the paper so that you can only see the last line you wrote. Hand the paper to one of the kids, and ask then to continue the story for one or two lines. Again, fold the paper so only the last line is showing. Continue until everyone has a chance to contribute. At the end, read the story aloud to see what the kids created!
Set up a dip bar
Ranch, ketchup, honey mustard, gooey cheese — is there anything more glorious than a slew of delicious dips? If you're wondering what kids can use to move the dips to their mouths, the answer is: basically anything. You can put out pretzels, French fries, chips, tater tots or all of the above. The more dips the better.
Just kidding! Nobody's going to sleep!
(Well, they will sleep at some point, we swear. It just might be a little later than you had hoped.)
You may also want to have a late-night wind-down activity in mind, like watching a slower paced movie or show with the lights off, to signal that it’s time to quiet down for the night.
And if you have five different activities planned and the kids only get through three of them before they do their own thing, that's totally fine! The goal is to have them entertain each other. So if they can do that without your help, all the better.